Emotions vary on harassment office

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By Kevin Ritchie

While most students are oblivious to what’s happening with the harassment office, student groups at Ryerson have stronger feelings.

On Aug. 16, Wendy Roberts, manager of discrimination and harassment prevention services for eight years, was dismissed. Her position has been combined with harassment investigator.

“I felt like a friend of mine had died,” said Cara Scott-McCron, chairwoman for the Ryerson Dec. 6 Memorial Committee, which remembers victims of the shooting at L’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal. “I personally felt the loss very deeply.”

She said Roberts would find funds for the committee’s projects.

“She worked for us tirelessly,” Scott-McCron said.

Roberts was also on hand to help the chair of the Women in Engineering Project in 1998 by putting together a harassment seminar for the engineering faculty.

Co-ordinator of the project, Nadine Gudz, said Roberts helped create a supportive climate. “We had developed a really strong trust factor,” she said.

Gudz if concerned the harassment office won’t be able to organize seminars with only one person.

A ransom survey of 30 students showed only five were aware of the issue surrounding the harassment office.

“I’ve never heard of the harassment office,” said first-year mechanical engineering student Vijay Hary.

However, others, after they were told about the issue, said they wanted two people to hear harassment cases.

“Two brains are better than one any way you put it,” said second-year nutrition student Junon Maceus.

Fourth-year graphic communication management student Mario Vecchio feels the number of people hired for the office should depend on the volume of complaints. Although Vecchio has never needed to use the office, he said if he did, he would rather have to people’s input on the case.

The office shouldn’t be judged on how many logged complaints it receives, said RyeSAC v.p. education Cory Wright. Around 200 people come into the office for advice each year.

“Going into classes and talking to students is not logged, but it is very essential,” he said.

Wright points out the number of students who drop by the office is not recorded.

“Prevention of discrimination is happening,” Wright said, “and that shows because the complaints have gone down.”

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